Sunjoy Mini Maroon® BarberryBerberis thunbergii 'NCBT1' (PP# 30,330)
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Berberis thunbergii 'NCBT1' (PP# 30,330)
Outdoor Growing zone
The Sunjoy Mini Maroon® Barberry is a new, sterile variety of purple-leaf barberry that grows into a compact bush between 2 and 3 feet tall and wide. It has rich leaf coloring that doesn’t green in summer, and stays purple all through fall. The neat, dense growth needs no trimming to always look great, so that’s more time for you to enjoy the sun in your garden, instead of doing yard work. Best of all, this variety is tested and proven to be virtually 100% sterile. It produces no seeds capable of germinating, so it can’t spread into nearby natural areas, causing environmental problems.
Full sun is best for the Sunjoy Mini Maroon® Barberry, to keep the leaf coloring rich and bright. It will grow in any well-drained soil, from sand to clay, and in urban soils too. Free of pests and diseases, untroubled by deer or rabbits, it doesn’t need trimming, but if you want a super-neat profile on a hedge, trim in early spring, before the new leaves sprout.
There is no question that barberries are excellent shrubs, among the toughest and most reliable garden plants there are. The red-leaf varieties in particular are incredibly valued for their unique coloring. In recent years, though, their reputation has been tarnished by growing concerns over their ability to spread through seed into natural areas, threatening complex ecosystems and reducing the diversity of local environments. As so often happens at those times, professional horticulturists set to work to solve the problem. After 10 years of trials and testing, we can now offer you the results – the first red-leaf sterile variety, the amazing Sunjoy Mini Maroon® Barberry. This is not some marketing hype either, but supported by extensive testing and trials. These plants are not only compact, dark-red all season, and tough, they are 98.8% to 100% sterile – they produce no seeds, so no spreading into surrounding natural areas. Problem solved, and you can plant freely, knowing that you are doing nothing harmful to your local environment.
The Sunjoy Mini Maroon® Barberry is a compact deciduous shrub, growing 3 or 4 inches a year, and producing a bushy, dense shrub with many branches, growing 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. The stems are flexible and strong, never breaking under snow. The leaves grow evenly along young stems, and in clusters on older ones, keeping bushes dense, with leaves throughout their branches. The leaves are smooth and rounded ovals, up to 1 inch long, and from the time they first emerge, until the drop in fall they maintain a rich, dark maroon-purple coloring, with no greening during the summer months, even in hot areas. At the base of each leaf cluster is a short, sharp spine, which makes a row of barberry virtually impenetrable to four or two-legged intruders.
In spring, while the new leaves are still small, clusters of 3 to 8 bright-yellow flowers form all along the stems. A single bush can carry 1,000 of these bright blossoms, and they add a cheerful and colorful touch, nestling among the purple leaves, for about 2 weeks. In ordinary barberry, these blooms would develop into seed-filled red fruits, but in this specially-bred barberry fruits are almost never produced, and any that are while lack viable seeds.
This great compact little shrub is perfect for planting in the front of your shrub beds. With leaves right to the ground it fills spaces all by itself. Plant it alone, in clusters or in rows as edging. Space grouped plants up to 18 inches apart for a solid drift of purple, or a great informal hedge that needs no clipping. You can also trim established hedges once a year for a super-neat look. Plant it on slopes, in the narrow beds of terraced walls, among rocks, and anywhere where you want bright color. It can also be used in planters and pots. It contrasts well with other barberry bushes – those with golden foliage, for example.
Very resistant to cold, yet also enjoying lots of sun and heat, the Sunjoy Mini Maroon® Barberry is completely hardy all the way from zone 4 to zone 8. Plants in boxes and pots can be left outdoors all year round in zones 6, 7 and 8. In colder zones, bury pots or remove the plants and place them temporarily in garden beds.
Full sun is needed by the Sunjoy Mini Maroon® Barberry to keep it vigorous and to keep the foliage color at its brightest. More than an hour or two of shade each day is not desirable. As for soil, any well-drained earth, including drier sands and gravels, as well as clays and urban soils, are suitable – just avoid wet areas.
The Sunjoy Mini Maroon® Barberry is untroubled by pests or diseases, and left alone by deer and rabbits, who are repelled by the spiny stems. This plant remains neat and compact, really not needing any trimming at all. If you want to keep a very neat hedge, trim in early spring, just before the new leaves emerge. Even in fall, when the leaves fall, they are small and just disappear – nothing to rake.
Barberry, Berberis thunbergii, has been grown in our gardens since it was first introduced in 1875 from Japan by plant collectors with the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. Those first plants were tall, with green leaves, but popular for their yellow flowers and red berries. The first purple-leaf forms appeared in France before 1900. Since then purple-leaf forms have been always the most popular, so it was natural for Dr. Thomas Ranney, of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, to launch his quest for seedless barberry plants with plants of that color. He began in 2005 by crossing together two different seedlings of Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea, the ‘natural’ purple-leaf form. To improve the chances of growing unique plants, he treated the seeds with ethyl methanesulfonate, a chemical that accelerates the number of changes when cells divide. He sprouted the seeds, and from among the seedlings he selected one for further study. After extensive trials and tests, he knew he had a compact, bushy plant with excellent foliage color, but one that wouldn’t produce seeds. Careful tests showed it was 98.8% to 100% sterile. He named it ‘NCBT1’ and received a patent for it, to benefit the University, in 2019. It was released the same year by Spring Meadows Nurseries, as part of their Proven Winners® range. They registered the trademark name, Sunjoy Mini Maroon®, for it, adding it to their SUNJOY® range of exciting, colorful barberry bushes.
Unable to produce seeds, the Sunjoy Mini Maroon® Barberry is a winner all across the country. Now you can bring barberry back into your garden without concerns about your local environment, and enjoy those rich purple leaves on compact plants that need no trimming or significant care of any kind. Order now – this new release is taking the gardening world by storm – and then sit back, relax and enjoy the sun, you deserve it.